Mt. Spokane has hired from without and within to fill two vacant varsity basketball positions.
The new boys coach is Greg Hannan, a financial advisor whose varied basketball background included a year as head coach at Freeman. He replaces retiring coach Bill Ayers.
Spokane product Melissa (Barker) Allen, who moved here last summer from San Diego to fill a counselor position at the high school, is the Wildcats’ girls coach. She replaces Juli Kistler, who stepped down for family reasons.
“We were looking for someone who could come in and take over a (boys) program that was pretty well established and not make wholesale changes,” activities coordinator Paul Kautzman said. “Coach Hannan is the guy who is going to be able to do that.”
That Allen was in-building and applied for the girls coaching job made that choice easy.
“The way the district works is you go in-building first, then in-district and outside,” Kautzman said. “Melissa coached for nine or 10 years at Mission Bay High in San Diego and expressed interest she might want to get back into it. It’s unusual to have someone with those qualifications.”
Allen graduated from Ferris in 1985 and played on the Saxons’ first state placer (third in ’84). She graduated from Hawaii in 1990 and assisted for four years at University of San Diego before becoming a high school coach and guiding Mission Bay to the state semifinals in 2003. She’s been out of coaching five years while raising a family. She and her husband, Allen, who played volleyball at Hawaii and was on the national team, moved here to be closer to her family.
“I’ve come out of retirement earlier than I planned. It’s a pleasant surprise,” said the mother of three, including daughters ages 7 and 5. “I didn’t anticipate Juli resigning, but I understand where she is at.”
Coaching again is something she said she wanted to do and will get to know the young team better this summer and base style on personnel.
“Juli laid a solid foundation,” Allen said.
Hannan played at Clarkston, graduating in 1982 (and against future college and professional star Detlef Schrempf in the State AA semifinals) and for his father, Dick, at Lewis-Clark State. He also played in Australia professionally.
A financial planner in Coeur d’Alene for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the Spokane Valley resident got into high school coaching at Freeman at the behest of former teammate Matt Gregg, first as an assistant for boys coach Mike Thacker and then in tumultuous 2008 as Thacker’s replacement for the state-qualifying Scotties. He wasn’t retained.
“They wanted to go in a new direction,” he said.
Last year Hannan assisted Jeff Norton at regional qualifier Lewis and Clark.
“I still wanted to do this,” Hannan said of coaching. “A lot of people (coaches) helped me through my career. And I’m fairly competitive by nature.”
He said he will build upon what Ayers has established and “not rebuild the wheel.”
“I know Bill is a great coach and a lot like my dad for his depth of knowledge,” Hannan said. “I want to do what I learned from my father. My playing days are over and I want to be the conductor of the band.”